REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 0 Arsenal 4

Wasps captain Naomi Cole shakes the hand of Arsenal’s 16-year-old hat-trick scorer Ruby Grant. (Picture: Ben Davidson – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps’ Women’s FA Cup run was ended by the professionals of Arsenal on Sunday – but they won many admirers in keeping the score respectable in front of a stunning crowd of 1,550.

Although the injury-hit Gunners made six changes from their 3-0 win over Reading in the Women’s Super League, their starting XI still included seven internationals – including their captain, Scotland’s Kim Little, and Netherlands midfielder Danielle van de Donk.

Wasps, meanwhile, were missing ex-Wales winger Emma Plewa through injury but were able to call on former England youth internationals Naomi Cole and Charlotte Young.

Arsenal dominated territory and possession but in the first half they were mostly repelled by an industrious Wasps, with Young and centre-back partner Darcey James excelling.

GALLERY: For more pictures from the Arsenal game, CLICK HERE

It took 17 minutes for the Gunners to break through as they capitalised on a rare defensive error, Katie McCabe feeding Little, who drilled into the bottom left-hand corner.

But if the crowd at Tinsley Lane – more than double that which saw Brighton play Manchester United at Crawley Town earlier in the day – feared the floodgates would open, Wasps proved them wrong with some snappy work in midfield and crisp passing football on the break.

However they were undone again just before the break as Denmark winger Katrine Veje sped past Niamh Stephenson and laid the ball across for 16-year-old Ruby Grant, who fired home.

Arsenal replaced Little at half-time with England midfielder Leah Williamson, and the Gunners created more chances – Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs twice denying Veje.

Ruby Grant fires past Frankie Gibbs to score her second and Arsenal’s third. Picture: Ben Davidson (www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Kemina Webber’s introduction for Wasps did give Arsenal’s defence more to think about, but Grant grabbed her second and the visitors’ third after being played in by Ava Kuyken.

Wasps had a great chance to score the goal their hard work merited when Faye Rabson skipped clear, but the experienced Sari Van Veenendaal stood up well to block her shot.

And teenager Grant completed her hat-trick late on – but the result was always secondary to the valiant performance and the outstanding crowd on the biggest day in Wasps’ history.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, Young, James, Palmer; Drury (Russell 66), Cole; Fleischman (Webber 60), Stow, Rabson; Heather (Davies 90). Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Ward, Woollard.

Arsenal: Van Veenendaal; Dawbarn, Quinn, Arnth, McCabe (Albuquerque 62); Van de Donk (Hazard 62), Little (Williamson 46), Grant; Filis, Kuyken, Veje. Subs not used: Peyraud-Magnin, Mead.

REACTION: Walker “immensely proud”, Arsenal boss praises Wasps

REPORT & GALLERY: Coventry United 1 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps celebrate reaching the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup after winning at Coventry United.

Darcey James’s injury-time winner saw Crawley Wasps stun higher-division Coventry United on Sunday and book a history-making tie with Arsenal in the Women’s FA Cup fourth round.

As extra-time loomed, centre-back James nodded in Naomi Cole’s corner to spark celebrations – but victory was only confirmed after goalline clearances from Ariana Fleischman and Niamh Stephenson.

It means Wasps have won all 18 games this season in all competitions – and now face the Women’s Super League leaders.

After a low-quality first 20 minutes, on a bumpy surface, Coventry – the unbeaten leaders of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier – went in front as a cross from the right was swept home by Amber Hughes.

But Wasps hit back immediately, Faye Rabson touching Stephenson’s cross into the path of Fleischman, who lashed into the far corner. Naomi Cole then fizzed a shot inches wide.

GALLERY: For more of Jeff Bennett’s photos from the Coventry United game, CLICK HERE

HIGHLIGHTS: See the best of the action from the game here >>

Paul Walker’s side had to dig deep in the second half as Coventry pressed but Wasps were always a threat on the counter, with Megan Stow curling an effort against the upright.

Coventry went even closer as a hooked shot smacked against the underside of the bar, while only an outstanding tackle from Charlotte Young denied the hosts an 89th minute opportunity.

That proved to be a match-saver as James headed in – and the reward will come on February 3.

First goalscorer Fleischman said: “I had just a second to look up and tried to go for the corner, with placement.

“I’m just proud of the girls today, we picked each other up when we went 1-0 down and we got that goal.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, Young, James, Palmer; Drury (Davies 84), Cole; Fleischman, Stow, Rabson; Heather. Subs not used: Graves, Measures, Russell, C. Carter.

REPORT: Crawley Wasps 9 Denham United 0

Kemina Webber scored twice in the 9-0 win over Denham United (Picture: Dave Burt – www.daveburtphotography.co.uk).

Crawley Wasps warmed up for next weekend’s Women’s FA Cup second-round clash with Chichester by beating a young Denham United 9-0 in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday.

Six different players found the net as Wasps made it 15 wins from 15 in all competitions this season and stretched their unbeaten league run to 25 matches, dating back to March 2017.

It also guaranteed they will be top of the National League Division One South table until at least mid-January, in their first level at this season.

Wasps raced into a 4-0 lead after half an hour. Kemina Webber’s flicked header from Naomi Cole’s corner opened the scoring, while Sian Heather bunded in the second from Emma Plewa’s cross.

Former Wales international Plewa got the next two, first reacting quickest when Webber’s shot came back off the bar, and then slotting in after Heather had poked past the advancing goalkeeper.

Denham competed well for periods after the break but Wasps racked up three goals in as many minutes midway through the half.

Left-back Rachel Palmer fizzed in a shot from 30 yards, Heather crossed for Webber to make it 6-0 and midfielder Megan Stow’s low drive found the bottom corner.

Stow then set up Heather and Jenny Drury hooked in the ninth after Ariana Fleischman’s searching cross.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James (Russell 75), Young, Palmer; Drury. Cole; Heather, Stow, Plewa (Fleischman 47); Webber (Davies 72). Sub not used: Graves.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 6 QPR Girls Dev’ment 0

Emma Plewa scored a hat-trick against QPR Girls Development in the Women’s FA Cup (Picture: Ben Davidson – www.bendavidsonphotography.co.uk).

Former Wales international Emma Plewa hit a hat-trick as Crawley Wasps reached the second round of the Women’s FA Cup with a 6-0 win over QPR Girls Development on Sunday.

Kemina Webber, Megan Stow and Ariana Fleischman were also on target against the Rs’ youngsters at Tinsley Lane.

It is only the second time in the club’s history that Wasps have reached this stage of the FA Cup, and they have now won all 14 of their games this season.

Against QPR’s teenagers, who play in the division below, Wasps recalled Abbie Measures, Charlie Carter, Fleischman and Webber, and gave 17-year-old Lauren Graves only her second start in goal.

Measures created the first big chance with a cross that Plewa headed wide from eight yards out, while Rangers sent a volley wide from a corner at the other end.

A scrappy Webber goal put Wasps in front on 13 minutes. The centre forward burst into the box and the ball cannoned in off her as a defender attempted to challenge.

Stow shot into the side-netting from Sian Heather’s cutback, before Plewa’s cool finish when through on goal made it 2-0 on 26 minutes.

GALLERY: For more photos from the QPR Girls game, CLICK HERE

Graves comfortably fielded a long-range effort as Rangers threatened only occasionally, and Wasps scored four times in 20 second-half minutes.

Shortly after the break, Plewa latched on to a Stow through ball and rounded R’s keeper Lucie White before slotting in.

White also made saves from Heather’s angle drive and Fleischman’s half volley, but she could o little about Stow’s terrific effort from 25 yards which found the top corner.

Plewa completed her hat-trick in fine style, picking up the ball on the halfway line, burning past a defender and stabbing the ball into low into the far corner.

Fleischman completed the scoring when she snapped up a rebound following Heather’s saved shot.

Wasps: Graves; Measures (Drury), C. Carter, James, Palmer (Niamh Stephenson); Cole, Fleischman; Heather, Stow, Plewa; Webber. Sub not used: Gibbs.

MATCH REPORT: Billericay Town 0 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps players celebrate the 2-0 victory at Billericay at the AGP Arena.

Crawley Wasps pulled off a huge 2-0 win away at second-placed Billericay on Sunday to move five points clear at the top of the FA Women’s National League Division One South East.

An often tense game at the AGP Arena was settled by second-half goals from former Wales international Emma Plewa and ex-England Under-23 Naomi Cole.

The victory was their 13th straight win in all competitions and also extended Wasps’ unbeaten run in league matches to 24, dating back to March 2017.

Given the importance of the game to both sides, it was perhaps no surprise that the first half was tight with few clear-cut opportunities. Cole shot just over, while Billericay twice fired just wide after Wasps failed to properly deal with free-kicks.

But Paul Walker’s side took a grip on midfield after the break and were the dominant side for much of the second half. Plewa fired into the side netting and Megan Stow tested keeper Nikita Runnacles, before the crucial breakthrough.

It came on 64 minutes as Plewa beat the offside trap to latch on to Cole’s threaded pass and the winger pulled the trigger.

Cole sealed the victory herself with 10 to play as she took advantage of hesitant defending to slam into an empty net.

Manager Paul Walker said: “It’s an important win, against our title rivals, that keeps us firmly in control of our own destiny in our pursuit of back-to-back promotions.

“There were some outstanding individual performances but topping those was the overall team display – a superb work ethic and desire to get the job done.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer; Drury, Cole; Rabson, Stow, Plewa; Heather (Webber 87). Subs not used: Graves, Measures, C. Carter, Fleischman.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 6 Luton Town 0

Megan Stow came on as a second-half substitute and was one of six goalscorers (Picture: Ben Davidson – www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Prolific Crawley Wasps made it 12 wins from 12 in all competitions this season with a 6-0 demolition of bottom side Luton Town in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday.

They have now scored 35 goals in just seven league games this season, following promotion to the fourth tier of women’s football.

Striker Sian Heather nodded in the opener and skipper Naomi Cole blasted in the second from the penalty spot just before the break.

In the second half, midfielder Ariana Fleischman netted after being set up by Heather, with centre-back Darcey James scoring the fourth when the Hatters failed to clear a corner.

GALLERY: For more photos from the Luton Town game, CLICK HERE.

Substitute Megan Stow then got on the scoresheet for 5-0, with Faye Rabson rounding things off.

The win puts Wasps back on top of Division One South East, two points clear of Billericay with a game in hand.

The two sides meet at Billericay on Sunday.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young (Drury), Palmer; C. Carter, Cole; Rabson, Fleischman (Stow), Plewa; Heather (Davies). Subs not used: Graves, Measures.

MATCH REPORT: Eastbourne Ladies 0 Crawley Wasps 4

Ellie Russell, Lauren Graves and Millie Carter made their Wasps debuts in the County Cup win at Eastbourne.

A much-changed Crawley Wasps side booked their place in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Sunday with a 4-0 win at Eastbourne LFC.

Ariana Fleischman scored twice, with Suzanne Davies and Jenny Drury also on target, as Wasps secured their 11th consecutive victory in all competitions this season.

Playing against opposition from two leagues below – Eastbourne are in the same division as Wasps’ reserves – the opportunity was taken to rest many of the first-team regulars who have taken the club to the top of the FA Women’s National League Division One South East.

Reserves and Under-18s goalkeeper Lauren Graves, 17, was handed her competitive debut, as were two recent signings from Portsmouth – defender Ellie Russell, 21, and midfielder Millie Carter, 18, the latter from the bench.

Davies, a Wasps stalwart who has largely been used as a substitute this term, made the most of a rare start by opening the scoring from Charlie Carter’s ball.

American midfielder Fleischman doubled the lead before the break and then netted again in the second half, with an effort from the edge of the box.

Substitute Drury got her first goal of the season when she headed in a corner as Wasps eased into a last-eight tie against lower-league Saltdean.

Wasps are back at home in the league this Sunday when they host Luton Town at Tinsley Lane, Oakwood (2pm kick-off).

Wasps: Graves; Measures, Cole, Russell, Ward; C. Carter, Stow; Woollard, Fleischman, Davies; Webber. Subs: Drury, M. Carter, Heather.

MATCH REPORT: Oxford United 1 Crawley Wasps 3 (a.e.t.)

Sian Heather (left) netted at Oxford in extra time, forced by skipper Naomi Cole’s equaliser.

Crawley Wasps recorded their best result of an increasingly impressive season as they won 3-1 at higher-division Oxford United on Sunday to reach the third round of the FA Women’s National League Cup.

Despite numerous chances, Wasps had been within a whisker of elimination as they trailed 1-0 going into injury time, following Sophie Baker’s header early in the second half.

But Naomi Cole’s free kick drifted in to give the visitors a deserved equaliser, and Emma Plewa and Sian Heather both netted in extra time. It means Wasps have now won all 10 games this season.

Oxford – who sit mid table in the FA Women’s National League Premier South – were, on paper, Wasps’ biggest challenge since the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final against Lewes in March.

But Paul Walker’s in-form side were not overawed and created the first chance in the opening minutes, with Plewa stabbing wide at the far post from Heather’s cross.

Centre-backs Darcey James and Charlotte Young both had efforts saved by keeper Hannah Cox, before Wasps stopper Frankie Gibbs turned behind Flo Fyfe’s shot.

Faye Rabson and Heather then rolled shots past the post as Wasps continued to threaten before half time, and Rabson forced a good block from Cox just after the break.

But they were dealt a blow after failing to deal with a free kick and Baker’s looping header crept in.

Thales player of the match Young prevented a certain second with a goalline clearance, while at the other end Heather and Plewa both saw shots come back off the same upright.

Young then had a header of her own cleared off the line as it appeared Wasps would be frustrated – until Cole’s late, late free kick.

Then in extra time, Plewa’s shot took a deflection and wrong-footed Cox, before Heather eased the tension by snapping up the rebound after Rabson’s shot was saved.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer; Drury (Fleischman 85), Cole; Rabson (Carter 111), Stow, Plewa (Davies 111); Heather. Sub not used: Graves.

MATCH REPORT: Chesham United 0 Crawley Wasps 3

Left-back Rachel Palmer looks to clear her lines in the win at Chesham.

Crawley Wasps reached the first round proper of the Women’s FA Cup for the first time in seven years as they overcame a stubborn Chesham United 3-0 on Sunday.

It took a usually prolific Wasps side 67 minutes to crack the well-drilled and hard-working hosts, who play at an equivalent level of the FA Women’s National League.

But two goals from substitute Emma Plewa and a fortunate third by Megan Stow ensured Wasps a home tie next month against QPR Development.

Paul Walker’s side laboured during an even first half of few chances, the first of which fell to the hosts as a shot was dragged just wide.

Wasps’ best opportunities fell to Charlotte Young, who shot over, and Jenny Drury, who headed straight at keeper Lucia Delves.

They stepped up a gear after the break as Stow’s shot was pushed against the post by Delves, who also saved Rachel Palmer’s free-kick and another Stow effort.

Captain Naomi Cole and former Welsh international Plewa were both introduced from the bench and they combined to break the deadlock. Cole’s through ball sent Plewa through on goal and she checked back on to her right foot before drilling home.

Chesham had a few forays into Wasps territory – keeper Frankie Gibbs got down well to comfortably gather the biggest threat – before the visitors scored twice late on.

First, Plewa gobbled up the rebound after Stow’s shot had been saved and then Stow herself netted, as her cross-cum-shot drifted in at the far post.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson (Measures 90), James, Carter, Palmer; Young (Cole 58), Drury; Fleischman (Plewa 64), Stow, Rabson; Heather.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 5 Actonians 0

Darcey James (5) rises to head in Wasps’ third goal against Actonians (Picture: Dave Burt – www.daveburtphotography.co.uk).

Crawley Wasps produced arguably their most complete team performance of an incredible start to their maiden FA Women’s National League season as they beat third-placed Actonians 5-0 on Wednesday.

The victory made it six wins from six following promotion – eight in eight in all competitions – and stretched their unbeaten league run to 22 matches, dating back to March 2017.

Prolific Wasps have now scored 40 goals in their eight games this season – but it was defence that proved the best form of attack against Actonians, with three of the back four all on target.

Full-back Rachel Palmer opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Actonians keeper Paige Horsnell had raced out to deny Faye Rabson but the ball broke for Palmer in the left channel and she showed great composure to clip a shot in at the far post.

Wasps dominated the first half, with Megan Stow forcing an excellent diving save by Horsnell, Kemina Webber and Stow both striking the post and Charlotte Young’s header blocked in the goalmouth.

GALLERY: For more photos from the Actonians game, CLICK HERE

Stow, though, was not to be denied a third time as she was the beneficiary of a glorious defence-splitting pass from captain Naomi Cole and her midfield partner fired into the corner.

Actonians – considered among the top sides in the division – carried more of a threat after the break but Darcey James nodded in Cole’s corner on the hour mark to stretch the Wasps lead.

Rabson scored the fourth as she cracked in a shot from the edge of the box, while Wasps hit the woodwork twice more and Horsnell kept out Suzanne Davies and Sian Heather late on.

But she was beaten by Young’s injury-time header, which was adjudged to have crossed the line despite Actonians’ protests, as Wasps completed another fine result.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson, James, Young, Palmer; Drury (Carter 64), Cole; Heather, Stow, Rabson (Fleischman 71); Webber (Davies 64). Subs not used: Graves, Measures.